SIORR: Episode 7: Your biphobia is showing.
Hello! How’s it going? Are you excited, curious about the week ahead? Worried about the ember months coming up? How is your heart? Is it hurting, tender, healed, just there? Tell me about it! Super random thing that I’m excited about, last week Monday, I woke up and just decided to write out my self love moves for the week. This was the first time I did it and they are actions that say Aanu, I love you, I’m here for you and I’m going to show up for you by doing these specific line items this week, even if they are hard or inconvenient, I’m doing them for you. I honored this commitment and I’m so excited about it. Super random, but I wanted to share, if you want to try it out!
So today’s topic was supposed to come up much later, but while I was trying to decide on the conversation to have this week, I saw some threads on twitter about biphobia within and outside queer community. One was particularly shocking because they actually said, “I’m biphobic” and listed out the “whys’ ‘ behind the “validity” so to speak of their biphobia, listen I saw it and I clutched my pearls… like whaaat? WOW! Exploring biphobia is particularly important to me to discuss, first as a mental health proffessional, because bisexual persons are more likely to experience depression, intimate partner violence and anxiety. So understanding bisxuality, what it is, what it isn’t, is so key. As usual we will be looking specifically, at how bisexuality and biphobia show up in romcoms, lets jump right in!
Just for context, the definition of bisexuality we will get going with is “the quality or characteristic of being sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender”. While biphobia is “the dislike or prejudice against bisexual people”. Biphobia and transphobia are two prejudices that unite hetro and non hetro people and you would find the stats for distress at an alarmingly high rate, sometimes almost twice as high as people outside these communities. I think it’s mostly fueled by misinformation and a fear of something being taken away from them.
For example, a common line used is “you’re on the fence, you have to pick a side, or you’re half gay”, meanwhile, like we explored earlier, bisexuality, doesn’t mean being almost queer, you’re just attracted to more than one gender, kind of like a super power I think. Another common misconception is conflicting bisexuality with polyamory. Here’s the difference, polyamory is a relationship dynamic, bisexuality is a sexuality. So you can be bi and still be monogamous, and you can exist outside the bi community and be non monogamous or polyamorous. So a bisexual person can be polyamorus, and they can be polyamorous with people of thesame or different gender. So the argument that they HAVE to explore all their attractions at the same time is incomplete, do you get what I mean.
I also find that people tend to personalize a bisexual person’s attraction and that shows up as “are you really attracted to me if you also are attracted to this person of thesame or different gender, depending on if its a hetreo presenting relationship or a queer relationship. By hetreo presenting I mean that if a bisexual woman and a straight man are dating, its not necessarily a straight relationship because there is a queer person there but from the outside, it looks straight, hence the term, hetreo presenting. And at the root of it is a fear that ”what if this person is seeking something that I cannot give?”. This fear is hardly named so it will show up as the statements I listed earlier.
Regardless of how it comes up, biphobia is inexcusable; because what might sound like an innocuous statement to you, could puncture another person’s sexual identity, feeling of safety. Let’s call it what it is, a form of violence.
Earlier this week, I learnt about identity based violence where personal characteristics are used to demean, manipulate and control the partner. Some of these tactics overlap with other forms of abuse, particularly emotional abuse. This category is composed of oppressions including biphobia. So to put in context when bi sexual persons are told to actively hide their biness, or are censored from hanging out with same or opposite genders, depending on the relationship, or are kept from community events or verbal diggs are given when they mention their sexuality, like “hmmm, this your own sef, or who are going out on a date with this time? A man or a woman?” and you just know that this question is not pure. You’re definitely being biphobic.
A moment of accountability, a couple of months ago, while having a conversation with a friend I referred to another person and said, they don’t look bi, they look fully gay and she called me out on it and said I was biphobic. Then it was like a whole “biphobic??” but looking at it now, it was biphobic because who is to say what a bi person looks like. I imagine that if the person being talked about was there, they will be put under the emotional labor to defend their bi-ness or just stay quiet and endure one more dig and that’s not cool. All this to say that you can unlearn biphobia, even if you think that your design of biphobia isn’t harmful, I promise you that on some level it is.
Speaking of romcoms, first we’ll be looking at books that capture bisexuality in an unproblematic way, the first one is Conflict of Interest by Jae. I loved this one because it was a coming of sexuality story for a woman in her late 30s to 40s and it wasn’t one of those, I’ve always known I was queer, like she didn’t know and she just had to navigate that at such an age. And I think it was a decent representation, because some people know at 10 or at 18 and some at 40 and that’s ok. The next one is Just Three Words by Mellisa Brayden, this one was pretty awesome because it showed a moment of biphobia but was called out immediately and I loved how biphobia wasn’t normalised there, that was super cool.
I weirdly can’t remember the title of the third book and it’s the one I love the most. I love it because it showed a bisexual man, actively try to date more than one gender and at the end, the love story was between him and a man that was very non conforming in everything and a statement was made from that in the most moving way. That definitely a dynamic I want to see more of, maybe more androgynous women as well loving more than one gender out loud. I think from a consciousness raising and awareness perspective, that will be great to read too. The final book I’d almost recommend is called “CHOICES”, actually it’s a four part series by Skyy, that’s the name of the author (s-k-y-y). I said “almost” here because while it’s a great read, the biphobia definitely jumped out but it wasn’t called out here, the bisexual characters were almost apologetic about it and I found that problematic. Again it might not be the writer’s job to teach the reader, but they definitely hold some weight there and that comes with a bit of responsibility.
Anyway, that’s it for today! Have you read any book featuring a bisexual character, what did you think, would you recommend it and what role do you think authors play reducing biphobia? Send me a voice note on the anchor app or dm @sorryIOnlyreadromcoms. Follow us on instagram @sorryIOnlyreadromcoms because I’ll definitely hunt for the third book and share it there and you’ll also be the first to know when each new episode comes out! Talk to you next week, bye!
Listen to the episode here: